Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 250 nearly back at pre-Brexit levels

The FTSE 250 has come close to erasing its post-Brexit vote losses thanks to a remarkable rally triggered by the UK economy's strong performance in the second quarter.

London's second tier surged 196.81 points to 17265.91 - near its closing figure of 17333.51 on June 23 - as UK gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.6% in the second quarter, up from 0.4% in the three months before.

It comes after the mid-cap index - seen as better barometer for the health of the UK economy - took a hammering following Britain's vote to leave the European Union, sliding 7% to 16088.1 on June 24.

On the top tier, housebuilders were in the ascendency as the FTSE 100 Index rose 26.4 points to 6750.43.

Property stocks raced ahead following a robust update from Taylor Wimpey, which boosted profits and shrugged off uncertainty surrounding Britain's referendum on the EU.

The firm said trading was "in line with normal seasonal patterns" after the referendum result as pre-tax profits stepped up 12% to £266.6 million for the six months to July 3.

Revenues picked up 9% to £1.5 billion over the period as it built more than 6,000 homes in the first half of the year.

Shares in Taylor Wimpey climbed more than 6% or 9.7p to 154.6p, while Barratt Developments was the biggest riser, lifting nearly 7% or 27.6p to 432.9p.

London's premier index was also boosted by the GDP figures for the second quarter, which beat economists' expectations of a 0.5% rise after industrial production hit its highest level in nearly 20 years.

Industrial production climbed 2.1% over the period - matching figures last seen 17 years ago - compared with a 0.2% fall in the quarter before.

However, the pound struggled to make headway, falling 0.2% against the dollar at 1.31 US dollars.

Sterling was also 0.2% down against the euro at 1.19 euro.

In Europe, Germany's Dax was up 0.7% and the Cac 40 in France lifted 1.19%.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1% ahead of the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement.

The oil price hit a two-month low, slumping 2.2% to 43.9 US dollars a barrel, after fears over an emerging supply glut were exacerbated by a US government report showing a build-up in crude.

In UK stocks, broadcaster ITV was among the biggest risers as it announced a lift in profits, but said it would look to slash £25 million in costs following the Brexit vote.

The broadcaster said it has put in place a "robust plan" to meet the challenges Brexit is set to pose.

ITV made the announcement alongside results for the first half of the year, which saw total external revenue rise 11% to £1.5 billion.

Pre-tax profits increased 9% to £425 million but the firm warned that advertising revenue is set to dip 1% in the nine months to the end of September.

Shares in ITV were up more than 6% or 12.5p to 197.3p.

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline rose 29.5p to 1696.5p as it reported that second-quarter operating profit rose 15% to £1.83 billion after sales of new products more than doubled.

Group sales increased 4% to £6.53 billion with growth across pharmaceuticals, vaccines and in consumer healthcare.

The company also brushed aside Brexit jitters and announced that it is pumping £275 million into its three UK manufacturing sites, dubbing the UK an "attractive location".

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Barratt Developments up 27.6p to 432.9p, ITV up 12.5p to 197.3p, Taylor Wimpey up 9.7p to 154.6p, and Persimmon up 93p to 1681p.

The biggest fallers were Hikma Pharmaceuticals down 80p to 2561p, Mediclinic International down 19p to 1068p, Provident Financial down 48p to 2700p, and GKN down 5.1p to 295.9p.